Saints Drop Two Points
Sat 2nd Feb
The game between two relegation haunted teams ended up all square after the Saints great comeback in the second half was ruined by a moments lapse of concentration.
Wigan made two changes for this game with Paul Scharner making his second debut in place of Roman Golobart, and Ronnie Stam in place of Emmerson Boyce after he was injured against Stoke in midweek.
Saints made just the one change to their starting eleven with Luke Shaw reclaiming his place from Daniel Fox. Captain Adam Lallana remained on the bench as he recovers from injury.
The game began with both sides pressing hard and much of the play was squeezed into the middle of the park. Saints had the edge slightly early doors but the first real chance came in the 13th minute when Jean Beausejour played a perfect ball across the back of the defence for Franco Di Santo. The Argentinian made good contact but was thwarted brilliantly by Artur Boruc.
Moments later Saints had an even clearer chance when Lambert`s perfectly measured cross from deep into the area found Ramirez, who had beaten the offside trap with a perfectly timed run, but the Uruguayan blazed a volley over the top of Al-Habsi`s goal from eight yards out with the goal gaping.
Saints continued to press and harass the hosts but on 25 minutes Roger Espinoza's pressure in the final third paid off to win a corner for Jean Beausejour to take. From the corner Maya Yoshida lost Latic captain Gary Caldwell who powered the ball home to give the hosts the lead. 1-0.
Saints would have been devastated but as they immediately surged forward yet again they came so close to receiving a free gift from a James McCarthy attempted clearance whiched cannoned off Morgan Schneiderlin, and nearly caught Ali Al Habsi out but the Omani managed to produce a diving save to turn the ball around the post.
On the half hour Jay Rodriguez produced a moment of madness with a very late challenge on Beausejour which earned him what some may think was a very lucky yellow card.
As the game wore on it became more scrappy though Jos Hooiveld came close for the Saints as they upped the pressure towards half time when his header from a corner went inches wide of the back post.
Then with Saints upping the pressure as half time approached Wigan came close to notching a second goal when a Shaun Maloney in-swinging free kick from the left found Scharner's head, but the ball was blocked and Saints were able to clear.
Saints were forced to make a substitution at the start of the second period, with Steven Davis replacing Ramirez who had taken a knock late on in the first half. A decision which we thought might have been made with Lallana coming on instead.
Saints resumed where they had left off at the end of the first half by pushing Wigan back. Cork nearly set Lambert up with a cross but Paul Scharner just succeeded in beating Lambert to the ball to clear.
Cork then received a booking for a foul on Roger Espinoza but he continued to help Saints force the issue as the pressure continued to rise on the Wigan defence. An almost perfect Cork cross had Al-Habsi scrambling to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Wigan made their first change on 56 minutes with Jordi Gomez replacing Ronnie Stam. A Lambert break down the left side, saw him cross the ball towards Rodriguez but he mis-hit his shot, and the ball ended up in front of Puncheon who was unable to finish from close in.
On the hour mark Adam Lallana came on for Nathaniel Clyne with Cork moving over to the right back position. Soon after a Cork cross to Rodriguez was flicked on and Lambert bravely went for the ball and headed it home for the equalizer. 1-1.
The goal brought even more urgency to the game though Saints were still dominating with the pressure mounting all the time on the Wigan goal.
The Saintss continued their assault for winner, hitting the post from substitute Adam Lallana and forcing Latics to try and clear frantically as they piled men into the box.
In the 72nd minute, Luke Shaw continued to impress as he burst down the left flank to send in a cross which found Lambert at the far post, but his volley across goal flashed inches wide with Al-Habsi beaten.
Wigan then brought on striker Callum McManaman in place of Espinoza, as they searched for a way to stem the tide, in the 74th minute. Still though it was predominantly Saints on the front foot.
In the 81st minute Saints brought on James Ward-Prowse for Jason Puncheon. Still Saints pressed and then the break through came in the 85th minute.
The move started from deep where Ward-Prowse brilliantly set Rodriguez away, and the frontman kept his nerve and took the ball all the way to the byline. He glanced across before crossing to Morgan Schneiderlin inside the six yard box, and Schneiderlin gleefully stroked home what we thought was the winner. 85 minutes 1-2.
Sadly in the 89th minute corner on the left was headed back across the box by Scharner to Maloney who made no mistake from close range to make it 2-2. 90 minutes 2-2.
There was just time for a quick attack at both ends before time was called.
Another disappointing end to a game for Saints having fought back from a goal down to lead so close to the end.
Just Schneiderlin I think.
'It's vital to carry on picking up points. We have to get that consistency of picking up points and today gives me real satisfaction.'
'Paul Scharner was very impressive and he brought real intensity to our defending. He will be important to us between now and the end of the season.'
'The players have accepted my style very much. I'm sad for the players and thank the supporters.'